With Valorant's Episode 5 Act 3 scheduled to end soon, fans are eagerly anticipating the game's next competitive period. Besides a new Battlepass and weapon collections, the upcoming Episode 6 and its first act will bring influential changes to the existing meta and exciting new features.
Having run for almost six months, the prominent Episode 5 will finally conclude in a little over a week. Overall, 2022 has been a fairly productive year for Valorant, with the game's fourth and fifth episodes bringing exciting in-game content, new features, big changes to the existing meta, and more. Furthermore, Valorant esports received a tremendous boost in popularity and relevance.
The upcoming Episode 6 Act 1 is expected to add new maps to the rotation, introduce new in-game features and updates, hard reset competitive ranks, change the existing Agent meta, and so much more. Let's take a closer look at what's coming up in Valorant's next competitive frame.
When will Valorant's Episode 6 Act 1 launch and what will it include?
The ongoing Episode 5 Act 3 in Valorant will end on January 10 PT, paving the way for a brand new season on the very same day. Following the usual trend, Episode 6 Act 1 will launch shortly after the queue for the current act ends. It will begin on January 10 PT (January 11 for India and other SEA/SA regions).
The official launch will be preceded by server maintenance that Riot Games conducts before the deployment of every patch. The highly anticipated Episode 6 Act 1 marks the beginning of Valorant's 2023 content timeline. Valorant's developers have a lot planned for this year, including major changes to the existing in-game competitive system, new Agents and maps, game modes, and more.
Removal of Breeze and Bind, Split will be returning
As per the official announcement from Riot Games back in December 2022, Valorant's current map rotation will temporarily bid farewell to two maps: Breeze and Bind. To compensate for this change, the Split map will return to the competitive pool after an absence of six months. However, the developers' plan to remove two maps and add one back in still leaves a gap within the pool.
Back in July 2022 when Pearl was launched, the developers announced their decision to maintain a seven-map rotation pool in Valorant. To accommodate the official plans, Split was removed from the rotation, bringing the total number of competitive maps to seven.
Hence, fans are expecting a brand new map launch in Episode 6 Act 1 to fill out the deficient rotation pool. However, it may be too soon to anticipate a new map in Valorant.
New map: City of Flowers
The developers have been dropping major hints about a new map in Valorant's lore. As per the leaks so far, the upcoming map, codenamed "Jam," could be inspired by an Indian city, may feature destructible stone doors, and will promote a brand new mechanic.
Currently, the official name of this map isn't known. However, Harbor, Astra, and several others in VALORANT Protocol have referred to it as the "City of Flowers." The actual name will most likely differ from the "City of Flowers," as Valorant's maps have always featured single-word names.
Riot Games refrains from launching new maps frequently to make the fast-paced competitive shooter slightly less complicated for beginners. This is also a major reason as to why the developers chose to maintain a seven-map competitive pool.
With Pearl's recent release, the City of Flowers may not be launched in the upcoming Act. However, the deduction of two maps from the rotation pool may indicate that a new one will be launched, alongside Split's return, to fill that gap.
Thus, the City of Flowers' introduction in Episode 6 Act 1 may be a well-formed speculative thought, but can only be confirmed after an official announcement from Riot Games.
Rank reset and Premier game mode
Valorant's upcoming competitive period marks the beginning of a brand new Episode, which will hard reset every player's rank and MMR. The game's MMR system requires players to play five matches at the beginning of Episode 6 Act 1 to determine their ranks.
An Episode's rank reset is harsher than that of an Act. Generally, this reset leads to gamers receiving a lower rank than they achieved in the last Act and Episode. As a result, they will need to prove their skills by climbing through a lower rank to reach his/her highest point on the ladder.
The highly anticipated Premier game mode may also launch globally with the upcoming Act. If so, this addition will undoubtedly introduce a completely different trend to the ranked system and the game's competitive scene in general.
New Battlepass and weapon collection
Brand new Episodes and Acts always bring fresh Battlepasses and weapon collections. One can likely expect the Premium Content team at Riot to come up with a highly attractive weapon collection to mark the beginning of Episode 6.
While Battlepasses may not include premium weapon collections, they still feature a bunch of Radianite Points, sprays, titles, player cards, and a hit-or-miss melee skin. Furthermore, it's the cheapest way for players to get their hands on some exciting in-game content.
New smurf detection algorithms, existing Agent and map changes, new game modes, and more
The latest automated smurf detection system, which was added to Valorant on a global scale back in September 2022, is reportedly able to detect smurf accounts more efficiently than ever before. The team has announced that it will launch a follow-up version of the Smurf Detection system in 2023. Although unconfirmed, this addition will likely happen in Episode 6 Act 1.
Patch 5.12 brought in a multitude of Agent updates to freshen up the meta. Unfortunately, some changes within the patch have resulted in major disappointment amongst fans. The developers may take some fan feedback into consideration and introduce follow-ups to the previous patch to make changes to the meta with Episode 6 Act 1.
Lastly, players may get to welcome new game modes that were developed to diversify their experience in the game. Apart from the new features, the developers are also expected to introduce new performance improvements, settings, and bug/general fixes and upgrades.
As of now, the developers haven't announced much about the upcoming Episode and Act. However, Riot Games recently posted a teaser that hints at Episode 6's trailer release date, or possibly a cinematic release date, on January 5, 2023. Needless to say, the developers will likely have some influential announcements planned for this date.